Saturday, July 16, 2005

Who is the Half-Blood Prince?

After the show last night, some friends of mine were headed off to our local bookstore to pick up their copies of the new Harry Potter and enjoy the festivities of the midnight party. I decided to tag along just for the fun of it (I had already pre-ordered the book). The place was packed with people old and young, in costume and not. There was certainly an air of excitement (even among the staff) as Hogwarts professors, wizards and muggles loitered among the shelves, or waited in line for coffee, or just sat on the floor talking and reading - waiting for the clock to strike twelve.

When the final seconds finally ticked by, a cheer went up and there were squeals of excitement from the kids who had managed to snag that coveted spot at the front of the line. A photographer worked furiously to capture the moment as delighted, wide-eyed kids walked away grasping their new books, huge smiles on their faces. All of which leads me to wonder.... Despite some of the recent controversy about the books, can anything that gets millions of kids to happily stick their noses in a book really be all that bad?

The Potter books draw kids into reading like nothing ever has, and kids who like to read may well realize all sorts of benefits as they get older (I seem to recall some studies to that effect, though I haven't taken the time to locate those sources). The books pique kids' imaginations and at the same time illustrate classic morals of good versus evil. And it's a fantasy book folks! Let the kids read, or better yet, read the books with them! Come on!

I can't wait until my kids are old enough for these stories, and as for myself.... Well, I did sneak a peek at the first page (that's me in the pic above), but I'm ashamed to admit as a big Harry fan, that I haven't read book five yet! All is well though, as this gives my wife a chance to read our copy of the latest while I catch up.

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